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Gravel & Shea PC

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Gravel & Shea Announces New Innovative Financial Technology/Blockchain Practice Group

Gravel & Shea is pleased to announce the formation of a new legal group specializing in analysis and resolution of legal issues related to blockchain technology headed by David Thelander. The practice group expects to afford special focus on legal issues related to financial/technology and real estate applications of blockchain technology.

In that regard, Gravel & Shea is proud to disclose that it has been retained by Propy, which uses blockchain technology to enable the purchase of real estate on line.   Gravel & Shea has also been retained by BlockNotary, which is engaged in the provision of blockchain enabled remote identity verification, blockchain enabled notarization and other related blockchain technology enabled products.

As part of its practice, Gravel & Shea is dedicated to assisting with the development and implementation of legislative and other legal solutions for blockchain related industries in the State of Vermont. Gravel & Shea’s work in this area was recently highlighted:

Gravel & Shea Welcomes Three New Attorneys

The team at Gravel & Shea is growing. We’re happy to welcome three new attorneys who bring a broad array of skills and backgrounds, enhancing the breadth of issues where we can provide expert legal service.

In March of this year, Celeste Laramie joined our litigation department as an associate. Celeste came to us from the Committee for Public Counsel Services’ Public Defender Division in Worcester, Massachusetts, where she worked for five years as a Staff Attorney. While there, she represented hundreds of indigent individuals charged with crimes ranging from simple misdemeanors to serious felonies. “We’re excited to add Celeste to our litigation team,” said Litigation Partner Jerry O’Neill. “After years as a public defender, she thinks well on her feet in difficult situations and writes persuasively. She’ll bring new insight to a wide range of cases here.”

Celeste received her JD from Boston College Law School.

Brent Lanoue became an associate in the corporate practice in August. Prior to joining Gravel & Shea, Brent worked for several years at a large law firm in Boston, where he provided advice on labor and employment issues, drafted and negotiated employment agreements, and counseled employers on compliance issues under ERISA and the Internal Revenue Code.

“It is great to have Brent here,” said Corporate Partner Peter Erly. “Brent brings to us a strong background in employee benefits and in executive compensation, an area of the law not heavily practiced by other attorneys in Vermont. He will make a great addition to our team working in these and other business areas of our practice.”

Brent attended Harvard Law School and clerked for the Honorable Brian L. Burgess at the Vermont Supreme Court.

David Thelander joined the corporate practice as special counsel in September. He also serves as Chief Operating Officer and Chief Legal Officer of the U.S. affiliate of Par Equity LLP, a UK-based venture capital fund.

“We are very excited to have David join us,” said Erly. “He has an extensive background in legal issues related to investment advisers and securities, including stints with the Securities and Exchange Commission, a prominent law firm and major investment firms. He has also been integrally involved in the legal developments related to the rapidly expanding use of blockchain technology in financial, real estate, and other business ventures.”

David received his JD from Vermont Law School, after which he practiced law in Vermont for several years before moving to Washington, DC. He served as a Ward 6 Alderman in Burlington and as a Trustee for nine years for Vermont Law School, where he is currently a Fellow for the Center for Legal Innovation.

“With these two new attorneys in our corporate practice, we’re expanding our expertise into some really interesting and dynamic areas of the law where not many local firms specialize,” said Erly.

Gravel & Shea Helps Secure Major Public Records Act Victory

Gravel & Shea Partner Bob Hemley claimed a win for government transparency last week. Representing a number of media clients, Hemley submitted an Amicus brief in the case of Toensing v. State of Vermont, which the Vermont Supreme Court decided on October 20, 2017.

In a unanimous decision, the Court held that the Attorney General—and in the future, all state agencies—must search the private e-mail servers of their employees when responding to a Public Records Act request. The case arose when, after receiving a request for documents related to allegations of improper campaign finance activities, the Attorney General’s office denied access to private e-mails.

At trial, the Attorney General argued that private e-mails are not subject to search, and the Civil Division of the Chittenden County Superior Court concurred. At oral argument, the Attorney General backed off his original position but maintained that the burden of demonstrating the necessity of a search should fall to the requester. The Supreme Court strongly disagreed.

As Hemley’s Amicus brief argued, the Supreme Court’s decision makes clear that private e-mails used for government business are public records and that state employees are required to produce them in response to a records request. To read the Supreme Court’s full decision, click here. For more on the Attorney General’s response to the decision, click here.

Super Lawyers Recognizes 12 Gravel & Shea Attorneys

Super Lawyers is a prestigious legal ranking organization that uses a rigorous, peer-reviewed model to identify lawyers at the top of their field.  Attorneys attract the attention of Super Lawyers through nominations by their peers, third-party feedback and surveys of managing partners. The Super Lawyers staff then performs independent research into the attorneys’ activities, including verdicts, awards, educational presentations and work within the community. Finally, the candidates are reviewed by a blue ribbon panel made up of their peers (top attorneys in the same area) for final inclusion in the Super Lawyers list.

Five percent of the attorneys in Vermont are recognized by Super Lawyers and 2.5% of the attorneys are designated as Rising Stars. In addition, Robert Hemley was once again named as one of the “Top 100 New England Attorneys” in Super Lawyers.

The 2017 Gravel & Shea recognized Super Lawyers are:

Jeanne C. Blackmore
Heather Rider Hammond
Robert B. Hemley
William A. Mason, IV
Jerome F. O’Neill
Robert F. O’Neill
Robert H. Rushford

We are proud to have excellent young attorneys at Gravel & Shea. Five were chosen as Super Lawyers Rising Stars for 2017. These are picked from Vermont lawyers under 40 or practicing fewer than 10 years. This year’s Rising Stars are:

Livia K. DeMarchis
Pauline Law
Daniel J. Martin
Ethan B. McLaughlin
Navah C. Spero

To find out more about Super Lawyers and Gravel & Shea’s recognized attorneys, click here.

Chambers & Partners High Net Worth Guide Ranks Gravel & Shea as a Band 1 Firm and Jeanne C. Blackmore as a Leading Attorney

In its annual High Net Worth Guide, Chambers & Partners once again recognizes Gravel & Shea as a top-ranked firm in Private Wealth Law and Partner Jeanne C. Blackmore as a leading Vermont attorney.  The Guide is an objective, independent and research-based guide that recognizes the world’s leading high net worth advisers. 

As stated in the Guide, Jeanne “advises clients on all aspects of estate planning and tax planning as well as with trust and probate administration. . . [she] also counsels business-owning clients on succession planning.“

In recognizing Gravel & Shea as a Band 1 firm, the High Net Worth Guide states, “Gravel & Shea is a full-service law firm that advises on estate planning matters, drafting wills and trusts, estate and gift tax minimisation and charitable planning. The firm also handles probate and litigation matters. There is also a family business succession planning group within the firm, which represents families in business successions and sales, employee stock option plans and life insurance planning.”

From Chambers High Net Worth Guide and Chambers USA.

Gravel & Shea Attorneys Honored As Lawyers of the Year in The Best Lawyers in America©

Best Lawyers - Honored Attorneys

Peter S. Erly, Timothy M. Eustace, Michelle N. Farkas, Heather Rider Hammond, Robert B. Hemley, William A. Mason, IV, Jerome F. O’Neill, Robert F. O’Neill, Robert H. Rushford, Norman Williams

Best Lawyers has named 10 Gravel & Shea attorneys to the 2018 edition of The Best Lawyers in America©, a recognition based on the ranking organization’s peer review methodology. Leading lawyers in the Burlington area were contacted by Best Lawyers and asked to fill out anonymous ballots about nominated attorneys. Those who received high marks, indicating that the voting attorneys would be likely to refer clients to them, are recognized as exceptional in their field.

Best Lawyers also recognizes those attorneys who receive the highest marks for their practice area in their geographical location. Gravel & Shea congratulates three of our attorneys on their recognition as Lawyer of the Year in Burlington:

Heather Rider Hammond:  Employment–Management Law Lawyer of the Year
Peter S. Erly:   Mergers & Acquisitions Law Lawyer of the Year
Robert H. Rushford:   Real Estate Law Lawyer of the Year

Gravel & Shea attorneys consistently rank highly in Best Lawyers‘ peer reviewed process, and we are proud to have the following attorneys recognized by Best Lawyers for 2018:

Peter S. Erly:  Corporate Law; Mergers and Acquisitions Law; Securities / Capital Markets Law; Securities Regulation

Timothy M. Eustace:  Litigation – Real Estate

Michelle N. Farkas:  Real Estate Law

Heather Rider Hammond:  Employment Law – Management; Litigation – Labor and Employment

Robert B. Hemley:  Bet-the-Company Litigation; Commercial Litigation; Criminal Defense: General Practice; Criminal Defense: White-Collar; First Amendment Law; Mass Tort Litigation / Class Actions – Plaintiffs; Medical Malpractice Law – Plaintiffs; Personal Injury Litigation – Plaintiffs

William A. Mason, IV:  Corporate Governance Law; Corporate Law

Jerome F. O’Neill:  Commercial Litigation; Criminal Defense: White-Collar; Personal Injury Litigation – Plaintiffs

Robert F. O’Neill:  Commercial Litigation; Criminal Defense: General Practice; Criminal Defense: White-Collar

Robert H. Rushford:  Real Estate Law

Norman Williams:  Appellate Practice; Mass Tort Litigation / Class Actions – Plaintiffs

Chambers & Partners 2017 Guide Recognizes Gravel & Shea as Leading Firm

The 2017 Chambers & Partners Guide to lawyers and law firms once again recognizes Gravel & Shea as one of the leading law firms in the Vermont.

Gravel & Shea received the top ranking (Band 1) in three areas: Corporate/Commercial, Real Estate, and Litigation: General Commercial. Partner Heather Hammond was also recognized for her labor and employment practice.

The Guide states that the group has “an impressive track record across a broad range of business law matters counseling both local and out-of-state clients. Areas of excellence include M&A, finance, taxation and construction law…. Sources point to the group’s primacy in the startups space, saying the team is ‘at the top of the emerging growth sector in the corporate/commercial practice area.’”

Recognized Attorneys:

Peter S. Erly
William A. Mason, IV

Litigation: General Commercial
The Guide calls Gravel & Shea’s litigation practice top-tier, “covering an impressive range of contentious commercial matters, including IP disputes, trust litigation and general business disputes. Other areas of excellence include product liability and bankruptcy litigation and alternative dispute resolution.”

Recognized Attorneys:

Matthew B. Byrne
Robert B. Hemley

Real Estate
According to the Chambers Guide, the real estate team covers “a broad range of real estate matters, including transactional matters and development work with respect to residential, commercial or mixed-use properties, [and is] also active in environmental and land use matters throughout the state. Interviewees praise the firm’s broad strength, with one client calling it ‘a full-service firm that we have had very good experiences with.’”

Recognized Attorneys:

Timothy M. Eustace
Michelle N. Farkas
Robert H. Rushford

As a credible source of guidance for more than 25 years, Chambers & Partners assesses law firms on technical legal ability, professional conduct, client service, commercial astuteness, diligence, commitment, and other qualities most valued by clients. Individual lawyers are ranked on the basis of their legal knowledge and experience, their ability, their effectiveness, and their client-service. The Chambers USA guide is widely used by firms and businesses to provide quality counsel and referrals.

Lawsuit Forces Change in Rules Regarding Access to Complaints in State Court

Bob Hemley represents Courthouse News Service, a California based wire service that reports on lawsuits from the time they are filed in state and federal courts nationwide.  Courthouse News brought an action in the US District Court in Vermont challenging the constitutionality of Vermont court rules that prevented court clerks from providing the public with copies of complaints until after the defendant was served.  In response to the lawsuit, the Vermont Supreme Court issued an emergency order on April 24, 2017 eliminating the offensive rules, establishing a clear victory for the First Amendment.  A link to the Burlington Free Press article describing the case and developments is here:


Gravel & Shea Assists its Media Clients by Advocating for Vermont Shield Law

Multiple media clients have asked Gravel & Shea to assist in promoting a shield law in the Vermont legislature. A shield law would protect Vermont reporters from being used as witnesses of convenience in civil and criminal litigation. Gravel & Shea attorney, Bob Hemley, is featured in the article describing the lobbying efforts which appeared in the March 29, 2017 edition of Seven Days. You can read the article here.

Gravel & Shea Sponsors Peak Pitch and Supports Entrepreneurs

Peak Pitch_edited

Each year, dozens of entrepreneurs and investors meet at Sugarbush Ski Resort for a day of pitching business ideas out on the slopes.

Peak Pitch, an annual event created and run by FreshTracks Capital, gives startup companies an opportunity to try out their messaging as many times as they can ski down the mountain and ride back up again. At the lift, each entrepreneur is paired with an investor and delivers his or her pitch while they ride to the top. The investor then decides whether to invest his fake money in the business. Those entrepreneurs with the most “money” at the end of the morning participate in a Pitch Off after lunch. Gravel & Shea attorneys Heather Hammond, Jeff Polubinski, and Pauline Law happily stepped into their ski boots as premium sponsors of the event for a second year. “What a great way to spend a work day—on the snow with people who are excited about their product!” says Polubinski.

Gravel & Shea is a strong supporter of Sugarbush and FreshTracks as well as the many entrepreneurs that are working to create innovative businesses in Vermont. “At Peak Pitch, we get to connect with entrepreneurs in a fun and casual atmosphere and hear about all the incredible companies they’re starting,” says Pauline Law. “There are people here creating everything from satellites and medical apps to maple sap evaporators.” Gravel & Shea Shareholder Heather Hammond, who specializes in labor and employment law, says she loves working with startups because they’re so passionate about what they’re doing. “When we can get in on the ground floor with these companies, we can give them peace of mind that we are handling their legal and compliance issues so they can focus on what they do best—creating great products!”